As Union County unemployment rates continues to hover above 10 percent, officials with Union County’s Goodwill operation find themselves in a tough spot: Donations have dropped even as more people ask for help.
About 6,700 people sought employment assistance from Goodwill in 2007, but two years later, that number spiked to more than 17,000, according to Bo Hussey, vice president of marketing and communication for Goodwill’s Southern Piedmont Region. And Goodwill officials in Union and the surrounding region expect requests to approach 20,000 for 2010.
Sales from items donated to Goodwill’s stores pay for Goodwill’s employment services, a lifeline of sorts to those trying to find jobs in the toughest market since the Great Depression. Goodwill helps people with resources to search for a job and also offers training for new jobs.
Perhaps more importantly, Goodwill strives to build confidence. “By the time many enter our doors,” Hussey explained, “they have been unemployed for six to nine months and are feeling pretty low.”
Goodwill’s classes offer instruction ranging from resume building to interview and dress code tips.
With more than 30 retail stores and donation centers in the Charlotte area, and plans to add more, Goodwill tries to make donating convenient. Donations offer a three-fold benefit, according to Hussey: providing much-needed items at an affordable price for those trying to make ends meet, funding job training and recycling goods that might otherwise go to a landfill.
“We help others while helping the planet,” Hussey says.
Goodwill accepts new and gently used clothing, household items, toys, computers and more. The group defines “more” as financial contributions as well as furniture and even cars, boats and other vehicles in working or non-working condition. During the winter months, Goodwill, obviously, has a greater need for donations of warm clothes.
Founded in Boston in 1902 by Rev. Edgar J. Helms with the idea that a job was better than a handout, Goodwill has become one of the nation’s respected nonprofits.
“Ninety cents of every dollar donated gets put directly back into Goodwill’s employment programs,” Hussey said.
According to the organization’s website, Goodwill Industries has touched more than 5 million lives nationwide in the past century and successfully placed almost 3,000 in competitive jobs in the Charlotte area.
Find the location of Goodwill donation sites and stores at its website, www.lgoodwillsp.org, or call them at 704-372-3434. Please mail financial donations to: Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Attn: Development Office, P.O. Box 668768, Charlotte, NC 28266.